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Joseph Genovese, St. John's professor, dies

Joseph P. Genovese, Sr., who taught math and

Joseph P. Genovese, Sr., who taught math and science at St. John's University for more than 40 years, died Aug. 16 at a long-term care facility in Uniondale. He was 71. Credit: Handout

Stacks of marked-up magazines and newspapers would build up inside the East Meadow home of Joseph P. Genovese because the longtime college professor just couldn't pass up examples of math and science in the real world.

"Those are subjects that usually made people cringe," said Genovese's wife, Mary, "but he would make his students say, 'I never knew you could apply it to my life like that.' "

Genovese, who taught math and science at St. John's University for more than 40 years, died Aug. 16 at a long-term care facility in Uniondale, where he had lived for the past four years. He was 71.

The cause, said Mary Genovese, was complications from diabetes -- which had forced him to retire in 2005.

"That really broke his heart," his wife said of the end of her husband's career. "He really loved his job."

Over the preceding four decades, beginning in 1964, Joe Genovese, a Queens native, often taught hundreds of students per semester at St. John's Jamaica campus. He'd develop his own workbooks to accompany required texts, collect particularly well-done term papers, and go out of his way to greet colleagues.

Lawrence Pitilli started teaching speech and public speaking full-time in 1988, and was assigned an office with Genovese. When Pitilli moved in, however, Genovese wasn't around.

It was no matter, because when Pitilli later arrived to teach his first class, Genovese was standing in the doorway to welcome him.

"That he actually found my classroom -- he must have looked it up -- I just thought was such a nice thing to do," said Pitilli. "He had a big, booming voice, and was very jovial. A very, very easy guy to talk to, and get along with."

Outside of work, Genovese had two true passions, family said: boating and cooking. Summers were often spent in a speedboat on the Long Island Sound off Bayville, and he was an avid viewer of the Food Network, on which not even the highest profile celebrity chefs, such as Emeril Lagasse, were above receiving a few pointers.

"He'd be yelling at Emeril: 'That's not the right thing to do!' " recalled Mary Genovese, a retired children's librarian.

In addition to his wife of more than 40 years, Genovese is survived by sons Joseph Jr., 39, of Levittown, and Anthony, 32, of East Meadow; twin 8-year-old grandsons, Alexander and Nicholas; a brother, Anthony; and a sister, Maryanne Chirichella.

A funeral Mass was celebrated last month at St. Raphael Church in East Meadow. The family is now planning to lay his remains to rest at sea, in the waters off Bayville that he long enjoyed.

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